State Supreme Court Issues Significant Rulings on HGN Evidence and Blood Draws in DWI Cases

Two of last week’s opinions from the North Carolina Supreme Court address significant legal issues arising in impaired driving cases. In State v. Godwin, the supreme court reversed the court of appeals, holding that the trial court was not required to explicitly recognize a law enforcement officer as an expert witness before the officer could testify to the results of a Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test.  In State v. Romano, the supreme court upheld the court of appeals’ determination that the withdrawal of blood from an unconscious impaired driving defendant violated the Fourth Amendment, notwithstanding a state statute authorizing this practice.

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